"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

Let's talk about the time a Wisconsin plumber shared high tea with with a trio of space aliens. The "Janesville Daily Gazette," April 24, 1961:
Eagle River, (AP)--A 55-year-old plumber said Sunday his story of trading a jug of water for three cosmic cookies in a silent bit of swapping with three men in a flying saucer kept his telephone ringing all weekend.

Joseph Simonton, who also operates a chicken farm, said the calls started pouring in after the story broke in newspapers and over radio and television. One of the cookies was sent to Donald E. Keyhoe in Washington, D.C, director of the unofficial National Investigating Committee on Aerial Phenomena, which has accused the Air Force of concealing facts about flying saucers.

This is the story Simonton told Dist. Atty. Calvin A. Burton of Vilas County:

The saucer landed on his property shortly before noon last Tuesday. It was a gleaming silver, brighter than chrome machine and appeared to hover over the ground instead of landing. It was about 12 feet from top to bottom and about 30 feet in diameter.

Out of a hatch that opened popped one man dressed in a black suit who held up a jug and indicated that he wanted it filled with water. There were two other men inside the saucer. Simonton saw an instrument panel.

All the men were about five feet tall and weighed about 125 pounds. Not one spoke a word to Simonton or each other.

Simonton filled the jug with water and gave it to the man who remained outside the ship. One of the saucer trio then gave him three cakes, about one-eighth inch thick and three or four inches in diameter.

The man got into the ship with the jug of water, the hatch snapped shut and it took off. Simonton said the ship had exhaust pipes six or seven inches in diameter.

Burton said that Simonton "sounded sincere" and added that the plumber had a good reputation in the community.

Simonton told the district attorney he was reluctant to talk about the incident earlier because some people might think it preposterous.

Simonton gave one of the cakes to County Judge Frank Carter Sr. The judge was supposed to have sent the cake somewhere for analysis but so one knew where.

A follow-up story appeared in the "Stevens Point Journal" four days later:
The flying saucer business picked up today. A 20-year-old Oneida farmer said he and five other persons spotted one in the air. And the Air Force decided to conduct an on-the-spot inquiry into one that an Eagle River man said landed on his land last Saturday.

Major Robert Friend of the Aerosoace Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, said that a "routine" probe was under way, with an Air Force officer and a civilian space, expert investigating the landing reported by by Joseph Simonton, 60.

Friend said that one of three pancakes Simonton asserted occupants of the saucer gave him was analyzed.

The latest sighting was reported to Oneida County Sheriff Penny Drivas Thursday.

"I wouldn't have called you, sheriff," said Brent Lorbetske. "but others saw it, too."

Lorbetske. his companion, Tom Hunt, 17, Mrs. Phyillis Lorbetske, the youths' mother, and three other Lorbetske children, all said they saw the object. All reported the object as flying quite high, extremely fast, bright and shiny and circular.

The Lorbetske farm is near the home of Joseph Simonton, an Eagle River plumber who said last week a flying saucer landed on a field near his home and one of three men inside asked him for a jug of water.

Dr. A. L. Hynak. the chairman of the astronomy department at Northwestern University, was asked to investigate Simonton's story for the Air Force.

"Lebanon Daily News," April 27, 1961

I haven't been able to find out any details about this analysis of the goodies from the Interstellar House of Pancakes. As so often happens with these particularly weird news stories, everyone involved seemed to think it best to just let the matter drop. Simonton passed away in 1972. His newspaper obituary stated that in August 1961, he saw two more UFOs.

What a pity he and Jean Hingley never got a chance to compare notes.


  1. A classic of high weirdness (although not as strange as Jean Hingly's experience). The cookies are usually referred to as pancakes. J. Allen Hynek (note the "e") apparently sent one to the FDA and they found them to be made of flour, water, and grease. No wonder they tasted like cardboard. This episode is covered in most UFO retrospectives, and two interesting online articles are https://www.anomalist.com/reports/pancakes.html and https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/01/pancakes-from-the-stars/ The second of these has an interesting, if tenuous, link to fairies.

  2. I'd rather meet Simonton's aliens. They seemed much more straightforward.


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